Community Leaders Fete Seniors for the Holidays

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By Vishnu Bisram

Indo-Caribbean community leaders of Richmond Hill from a variety of organizations got together and planned, organized, and hosted another entertainment, packed luncheon for Seniors last Sunday at Villa Russo.

It was well appreciated. It allow seniors to socialize with other others they had not seen for some time, and it provided for much merry making.

This luncheon has been going on for almost a dozen years now put together by Indo-Caribbean activists from Guyana, Trinidad and Jamaica. No other ethnic community hosts such a luncheon for their elderly. Many community leaders came together to make it a success, and the guests, among among were many non-Indians, thanked them. The elderly had a most joyous time celebrating the yuletide season and the end of the year. One is heartened that the organizers see it fit to host a special event for our seniors in NY. The organizers deserve plaudits for hosting a most memorable holiday luncheon in the heart of the Indo-Caribbean community during this festive season.

In today’s American society, senior citizens are often not treated with the respect they deserve. They are often neglected or ignored by their loved ones. Some are even abandoned by family members. Many have had a very lonely life in America with hardly anyone caring for them. Thus, it was good to see a few leaders such as Frank Singh, Taj Rajkumar, Kay Ramdat, Mala Dasrat, Ena Persaud, and others, hosting a luncheon for them and giving each a gift. Thanks also go out to Reggie Rawana, Son Son, Joyce Urmilla Harris, Randy, Rohan, Sita Pandey, Shawn Persaud, and dances by Alana dance group.
The luncheon included a traditional Caribbean holiday luncheon of Guyanese dishes, followed by Bollywood and chutney music and dancing. The songs were interspersed with speeches from the community leaders and politicians. Some community persons, including Mr. Mohabeer, were honored.

The holiday luncheon was initiated by several individuals including Frank Singh, the late Jagdesh Mohunlall, some wonderful ladies, Rita Persaud, the Indo-Caribbean Federation, Ralph Tamesh, Taj Rajkumar, Vishnu Mahadeo, and others. It started very small with just a few dozen seniors the first year. But as the years went on, some 500 attended the fete. Several non-Indians from the greater Richmond Hill area also attend the luncheon. The non-Indians look forward for the luncheon the kind of which is not hosted by their own community leaders. Indian culture has taught to treat elders with love, compassion and respect and that was on display on Sunday. The elderly did a lot for their children and the community, and it was a terrific gesture honoring and treating them well.
In addition to the Senior luncheon, the Hindu Senior Citizen Center of Richmond Hill, founded and managed by Chan Jamoona, also held its annual holiday luncheon many elderly including non-Hindus.

The Villa Russo holiday luncheon was sponsored by several community organizations to show appreciation for the seniors . The event helps to promote partnerships between businesses and the local communities. It was funded by donations from several businesses and a host of volunteers who worked very hard to put together the program and organize gifts for everyone. Villa Russo hall was transformed into a festively decorated atmosphere. The hall was decorated with party favors and Christmas paraphernalia. Villa Russo had a Christmas tree and other decorative items, providing an atmosphere of festive fervour and celebration to the elderly citizens.

The lunch was served at no cost to anyone. This year, unlike in the past when it was buffet style, the seniors were served their meal and drinks on the table. Volunteers from York College served as the waiters/waitresses. Some 42 trays of foods were donated by Indo-Guyanese and Trini restaurants. Fried rice, chowmein, roti, varied curried dishes, bara, phulourie, baked and fried chicken, cakes, pine tart, cheese rolls, salad, fruits, drinks, etc. were served. The senior citizens took part in the proceedings with lot of enthusiasm singing, dancing and cheering performers. They sang several old Bollywood songs of yesteryear and took to the dance floor when old chutney or Indian songs were belted. The non-Indians cheered and also danced away. The songs from 40’s thru the 1980s brought back the favourite memories of the past.

The elderly expressed their appreciation for all that was done for them. The luncheon brought out an energy of its own among the elderly and one can see the joy and happiness beaming from their smiling faces. As the celebrants left, each received a holiday present in a lovely bag.

I saluted the efforts of all for this luncheon that makes it a memorable event for the hundreds of Queens seniors.

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